Paredolia? I Hardly Know Ya

I was getting pretty burnt out on the nominally monotheistic superimposition of humanity’s longtime practice of observing the winter solstice. Wow, that looks so liberal.  The music is horrible, and there are really only a few songs. The marketing alchemists have done such an amazing  job of transmuting human decency into gold and they seem to start mining our hearts earlier and earlier every year. Expending a ridiculous amount of resources in the winter seems pretty counter-intuitive, but most cultures have done it or do it, except Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Love can make one generally less bitter, and age can sometimes impart wisdom, especially in the choosing of battles. Christmas is invulnerable under current US realities, so I meekly go with the flow, the tide being inescapable. Being no fan of winter, I’ll celebrate anything that means the days are getting longer. My new favorite seasonal mainstay though, is the “War On Christmas“.

Right-wing culture warriors and pundits can be hilarious, since their whole shtick is based on removing as much context as they can, from the subject. The refusal to acknowledge the role of the US in fattening Saddam Hussein and what would be come al Qaeda, is a good example. Like all alleged attacks on Christianity in the US, the removal of the reality that the dominant culture in the US is both Christian and Consumer leads me to wonder if their “War on Christmas” is the classical right-wing anti-Semitism bubbling to the surface.  Some of them want the world to end and need the IDF’s help to do a little urban renewal on the Temple Mount among other things and the antagonism between state of Israel and its Arab neighbors appeals to the 21st century Crusader mentality. Another removal of context takes place, when criticism of Israeli policy is labeled as anti-Semitism.

Bill O'Reilly-Going French On Us?

Bill O'Reilly-Going French On Us?

With the economy in a downturn, the “War on Christmas” rhetoric has been sadly but not mysteriously turned down. We even witnessed a good old timey human scarifice to Mammon. There’s still tons of crap you can buy, to make people squirm, and O’Reilly is generously donating a strange bumper sticker with the purchase of his latest book. The ire is pretty much squarely focused on one toy, a talking baby doll that allegedly exhorts toddlers to convert to Islam with it’s baby babble.

A few years ago, there was a movie released with electronic voice phenomena (EVP) at the center of the plot. EVP refers to people who think that dead people are communicating with them though radio and TV static and the like. I’ve also seen a talk show with some of these cases on it, and the sounds were definitely creepy, but much like the backwards masking conspiracies of my childhood, I just couldn’t hear the words they alleged that the static was “using”. It’s the same with the doll, which allegedly says “Islam is the light”.I couldn’t hear it and neither could some audio expert.

I’m not sure when it was released, but an  review of the toy from earlier this year makes no reference to the conspiracy, but as soon as the tinfoil hat types decided the jihadis at Mattel were converting their children, the comments section began to fill up with this sectarian hysteria. Like many conspiracies popular amongst the right-wing, it doesn’t stand if you return it to the big picture. Why would a big US toy company try to convert its customers (and future customers) to religion that has proven to be hostile to US style consumer capitalism? Why would Mattel possibly think no one would notice and make a fuss? How could such a secret be kept with the kinds of communication technology most in the US have access to?

Were I a sociology grad student, I’d be all over this one. It could be neat to track the epidemiology of a pareidolia, a big, new word I learned today. This century has been quite a disappointment.

An Open Letter to the “Anarchists” Who Voted for Obama

In a future revolutionary period, the most subtle and most dangerous defenders of capitalism will not be the people shouting pro-capitalist and pro-statist slogans, but those who have understood the possible point of a total rupture. Far from eulogizing TV commercials and social submission, they will propose to change life… but, to that end, call for building a true democratic power first. If they succeed in dominating the situation, the creation of this new political form will use up people’s energy, fritter away radical aspirations and, with the means becoming the end, will once again turn revolution into an ideology. Against them, and of course against overtly capitalist reaction, the proletarians’ only path to success will be the multiplication of concrete communist initiatives, which will naturally often be denounced as anti-democratic or even as.. “fascist”. The struggle to establish places and moments for deliberation and decision, making possible the autonomy of the movement, will prove inseparable from practical measures aimed at changing life.
-Gilles Dauvé: When Insurrections Die (Part 2)

Beloved and respected friends and comrades,

I’ve been putting this off for a little while, because it pertains to those who I “know” only digitally, and those of you whom I know and care for, which is little different than my normal motives for procrastinating. I’m also having difficulty coming to any kind of conclusive conclusion. Sometimes I feel like that straight-edge teen I used to be. The one who had to ignore my friend’s personal habits, if I wanted the friends I had. I’ve since exchanged abstinence for abstention, but the moral highlands get lonely. We all have moments, every day, when our words and actions are not explicitly anarchist ones. That’s no real contradiction. Theory’s theory,  and reality is reality. I lack the formal education to decide at what point (or which actions) we rack up enough ‘un-anarchist’ points to get the discount on gas or free coffee or purged from the Movement.

The recent US national election saw many of you anarchists (outside of the title, I’ll refrain from using quotation marks or “self-described” out of respect) publicly endorse and proudly vote for Barack Obama. I was unaware of the existence of modern anarchists in the US in August of 1999, but when I look back, I can find no evidence of any radical fanfare when Franklin Raines became CEO of Fannie Mae.

Looking back, It seems that anarchist involvement in US political conventions seems to be a baby-boomer contribution. I’m unaware of any anarchist actions at the political party conventions before 1968. Other than the tactical lack of Republican mobs in the street, we seem to harbor a soft spot for the Democrats. Maybe later we can figure that one out and we can also discuss why we even protest the political conventions?

This election, many people who identify as anarchists, saw no contradiction in voting. Some of you weren’t even the “hold your nose and vote” types. Some anarchists seem  proud of themselves, their country, and their candidate, for the moment, but that’s a moment too long. The reasons you gave us were pretty much the same reasons that people who vote democratic tend to give, plus some debatable notions that democratic administrations allow room for social movements to flourish (like they’re mountain lions) and murky stuff about solidarity. Which you may remember is the flipside of my past endorsements of “the worse of two evils”, because “an increase in open repression, privation, and alienation would push our beloved homogeneous masses to open mutiny” and that “republican policies can hasten the end of US empire quicker than the democrats can”. But I was less than half-serious and never actually went through with it. I didn’t have much internet access before the election, so I was unaware of this backslide into electoral superstition.

The  memory escapes me, but I am unaware of democrats nurturing radical social movements, I remember many armed right wing, “partiot”  groups, who are in favor of Jesus, if they don’t consider themselves Jesus. This time around, they can protect us from the UN and the Federal Reserve and al Qaeda in Idaho.  Dubya just didn’t deploy the black helicopters like Clinton did. Conspiracy kingpin, Alex Jones, should be able to afford an island soon. This is good news for the State security apparatus, because the similarities in views, structure, goals, and appearance between the FBI and the theocratic militias is much easier than these years of tormenting Muslims.

Anarchist voters also had to be pretty certain that Obama would govern from the center-right, in the manner expected of a modern US president, because if he was the “marxist” that right-wing radio still maintain he his, the repression against anarchists would likely be swift and brutal, if the 20th century is any indicator. The 21st century hasn’t proven to be much better.

Some of us knew that the campus radicals were easy prey for the democrats. The rise in anarchist votes in the last two elections seems to be reflective of the recent increase in youth turnout, overall, but many comrades who should have known better, “signed their social contract” last week. It’s not hard to see where material conditions become more of a concern as the acceptable age for youthful rebellion in the US is left behind. Add a few kids to that mix, and anything that has an outside chance to make material conditions even slightly less miserable must seem like a real good idea. Besides, who doesn’t crave some legitimacy every now and again and the pressure exerted by the people around you can be great? I also have the luxury of not being canvassed all day by co-workers.

I think that many of the anarchists who are concerned with building a mass movement of some sort, may have been more susceptible to voting. It’s likely some anti-authoritarians wanted to be on the winning team for a change, because there was that kind of group energy and momentum swirling around the Obama campaign, if you were willing to ignore the structure and aims. The business unions may have made voters out of some the anarchists who are there to radicalize the union. Which is telling, as far as the notion of changing the system from within is concerned, as if that one needed another debunking.

We tend to run with a pretty iconoclastic bunch, so it’s easy to forget, but hard to discount the effect that endorsements by some of the leading lights of mainstream anti-authoritarian academia must had. Bill Ayers probably gave Obama some radical credibility. Or was it radical chic? The republicans simply couldn’t grasp the political reality that people like Ayers are big-money liberal fund-raising props, like their wounded troops and police widows. Liberals love proxy violence and armed-struggle; so long as it is from another time or place, as sure as conservatives love US military and police violence. Zapatistas and Sandinistas and aging bombers are venerated money magnets, but break a window at a present day demo or hit a nazi with a stick and their American Exceptionalism is triggered. They’re incensed.

Like christmas, it’s not easy to avoid being sucked into the campaign reality grid, considering the resources expended on sucking us in. Avoiding Obama’s gravitational pull wasn’t easy, either. I guess even I’d seem pretty attractive if I spent $650 million of someone elses money to do so. I love politics as a spectator sport, though and this cycle was particularly entertaining, but I still don’t have a favorite team. Having lived through seven presidents, it wasn’t hard to figure out that the pendulum would favor a democrat this time around. McCain’s dementia-influenced health care plan which I sill can’t comprehend, was a far cry from the Wall Street sanctioned Obama proposal. When the reality that capitalism is just a game we all agree to play wounded the markets, there was no way Obama could lose. It was almost shocking to be reminded that the democrats were ever skilled at the game of elections.

US elections have also proven to be of extra dubious legitimacy lately, and electronic touchscreens have done little to make the results seem more valid. The participation of people I care about does nothing validate that process for me either. The fraud, intimidation, disenfranchisement, and other irregularities make the powerball seem like a better idea.

Does anyone really believe that the aircraft carrier of State can make a quick 180 degree turn, no matter how cool the captain seems? That’s why there are so many bizarre laws still left on the books, it’s not easy to put these things back into the box, Pandora. The State ensures its existence by passing laws, not repealing them. The issues that separate the US parties are meant to stay unresolved, or all they have to differ on is semantics and the parties would go out of business. Abortion & firearms seem to be the defining ones, and both are here to stay. The need to be armed and voluntary eugenics will never go out of style, as long as this system exists. The firearms manufacturers love democratic presidents, who become amazing gun salesmen through hysteria generated by lobbyists and pundits. Dubya was quite the Planned Parenthood fundraiser. Issues that unite the parties include; staying in Iraq, also known as supporting the troops, and as much surveillance as is technologically and near-economically feasible, which is pretty much just not mentioned by politicians or the media, at all. Obama, as you may recall is a-ok with domestic suveillance, and the “War on Terror®” is the replacement for the cold war. I don’t know which of the “changes” you “believed in” but they apparently weren’t in white house staffers, since 37 of the 41 appointed so far were ex-Clinton lackies. Can we look forward to more “workfare”, humanitarian airstrikes, and extra cops, fresh back from Iraq? Elected democrats are often called upon to prove how ‘tough’ they are on certain issues, typically these are mostly things like “Crime”, “Communism/Terrorism,most-isms”, “Drugs” and ocassionally “Poverty” or “Illiteracy”. The last two aren’t as much a priority, because they seldom involve explosions.

I can’t pretend to begin to have anything even resembling a clue, as far as how many of us the US consider themselves to be anarchists. I’d prefer to be wrong, but it can’t be too many. There’s probably a bigger Fiero owners club. In fact, I doubt that if every anti-authoritarian moved to a sparsely populated US state; all of us put together would not be enough to change the outcome of a US election. The math is what makes any argument for voting moot. I thought we knew our votes didn’t count? Had former 1960’s bomber John McCain won the election would that have jogged your collective memories? Would so many have admitted to voting? The folks who took a sabbatical from practicing anarchist theory and voted were not even a factor. Had you all remained proper abstentionists, like a big chunk of the population who don’t consider themselves anarchists, I wouldn’t be wasting a week on this one post.

Once again, it made little difference to the election whether anarchists participated or not, so I guess it shouldn’t matter to me?  I don’t know why I feel a little betrayed, though. Maybe it’s just knowledge of the loss of a shared affinity? After the passage of a little time, I have to question the election as a great historical event. Whites in the US have accepted Tiger Woods as the greatest at an activity that brown-skinned people have traditionally had sense enough to avoid, like skydiving. For 35 years I’ve listened to the blue-collar bigots in my family and neighborhood profess their admiration for Muhammad Ali, a physically dangerous black man with legitimately radical views, who practiced Islam.  As long as our celebreties are attractive enough, race can be easily overlooked.

I guess I didn’t campaign too vigorously against this election, out of guilt, which I imagine is what led you to endorse, campaign, and vote for Obama, and why you are still proud of your vote.

Parts of this will be addressed later, but something had to be said.

Love,

yinsurgent

Blind Obedience Can End “The War”?

January 17, 2008 will mark 17 years of open US hostilities against Iraq, although (maybe misreading of Baudrillard?) liberals disregard the Clinton years, since bombings and sanctions are not acts of aggression, unless Cuba is on the receiving end. The left wing of the US war party is as fixated on the Bush dynasty, as the right wing is with Clinton’s reproductive organ. The misguided souls who vote are too hung up on the stylistic differences to notice that US policy doesn’t change from administration to administration, except in very superficial ways, and so all sorts of kooky, hypothetical electoral and moral fantasies to “end The War” are being bandied about, as if “peace” is merely the absence of “war”.

For some unknown reason, perhaps it is the notorious US weakness in geography, many people appear to be delusional enough believe that the US intends to leave Iraq, and a politician or two can accomplish this. Maybe these people have never heard of Germany, Japan, Korea, Puerto Rico, Guam, or any of the other places the US has indefinitely occupied? The hipsters are more likely to withdraw from Brooklyn and the Brits are more likely to leave the North of Ireland (a situation closer to Iraq than the ahistorical Vietnam comparisons) than the US giving up on expanding consumer markets, laundering tax dollars, and controlling energy supplies in the Mid-East.

Some of the political fantasies bouncing around out there are so absurd, that it seems their proponents must be aware of the impossibility of the situation, or getting some really potent weed. One of the most entertaining pieces of fan fiction regarding the 2008 US elections was recently posted on the website of the Lefty newsletter, Counterpunch.

In Welcome to the Revolution, Donna J. Volatile adds another voice to the cyber kool-aid chorus, that much like the religious Right believes that a Saint Paul is the only route to salvation, although they mean the Texas one, not the Tarsus one. Volatile beseeches liberals and progressives to set aside whatever principles they may have, and to ignore Paul’s positions on everything but Iraq, since they are only “wrapping paper” on the “gift” of Ron Paul.

Even Dennis Kucinich seems to think so, there is so much buzz in cyberspace about the possibility of a Dennis Kucinich/Ron Paul ticket, it is stunning. Dennis has even raised the prospect himself as has his wife Elisabeth. Who ever thought we’d see the day?!

There is a larger point to be made here and perhaps the most important one and that is there isn’t a whole lot of difference between the wants, needs and desires of the anti-war traditional conservatives and the anti-war leftists and progressives. We just all need to get over ourselves. If Dennis Kucinich would consider Ron Paul as a running mate isn’t it time for the anti-war movement to dig a little deeper to see what is going on here?…

Sounds like Larouche/Nader, but if Dennis Kucinich (proof that the ‘one good politician’ can’t change policy or politics) says he’s OK…

(I have always supported Dennis Kucinich, whenever possible but after the 2004 Convention and his failure to stand up at the Convention against the war and support the peace activists who were hauled off the convention floor, with their anti-war signs, and given his inability to run a strong campaign, I can no longer back him. I do respect his positions on many issues.)

Volatile can’t overlook Kucinich’s failure to rescue people who wanted to get arrested from being arrested, but Paul’s cryptofacism is A-OK. Here’s a gem from a recent GOP candidate forum, where St. Paul discusses the importance of imaginary lines over human lives:

I see the immigration problem as a consequence of our welfare state. We encourage people not to work here, but the welfare we offer the people who come–they get free medical care. They get free education. They bankrupt our hospitals. Our hospitals are closing. And it shouldn’t be rewarded. That means you don’t give them citizenship. You can’t solve this problem until you get rid of the welfare state, because in a healthy economy, immigrants wouldn’t be a threat to us.

It’s no accident that Paul has the support of neo-nazis.

Volatile wonders:

Are we to forever be held back by issues, such as abortion or even National Health Care, an issue that never gets delivered in the first place (we are no closer now than we were way back when) ? These issues are by design. Abortion keeps us divided. National Health care lends us false hope.

Damn pesky, non-Iraq issues. I like my reformists to seek reforms, not dismantle them.

Some of the masochists who think that getting arrested on purpose (not to be confused with repression of dissent and resistance) is a viable strategy to affect change in a nation with 7 million individuals “in the system”, 2.2 million of them in prison, almost half of them non-violent drug offenders, have released a year-end report on the handful in handcuffs. The willingness to be handcuffed and processed for crossing an imaginary line is eerily reminiscent of the border-fixated crowd’s desire to arrest and/or bring harm to people who cross those imaginary lines. Except the activists call the cops on themselves (and each other).

These Lefties, who consider themselves to be more politically advanced or whatever it’s called, than their beloved working class, who in their eyes “just don’t get it” and need to be guided or saved, alienate their coveted “masses” with voluntary arrest. In my own experience, the average working person seems to recognize that this isn’t MLK or Gandhi’s world anymore, probably a result of day-to-day life. Making reservations to spend a day or two at a county lockup won’t do much to encourage the teeming masses to “join your movement”. To many people, getting arrested on purpose is something homeless people do when winter temperatures become deadly, and need shelter for a few days.

The possession of illegal drugs can also be viewed as a form of civil disobedience, and can sometimes amount to de facto being arrested on purpose, but the drug war isn’t going anywhere, so I’m unsure how a few thousand arrests for summary offenses (glorified traffic tickets) will result in “peace” for the people of Iraq. It’s a mystery how the identity politicians have failed to notice that raising bail in advance, then being taken into State custody on purpose, and then whining about your maltreatment is anything but an obnoxious display of privilege, and correctly seen as a waste of time and money to those with little of either. How can participation in State violence end State violence?

Voting and intentional arrest have a poor track record in ending the bosses’ wars, but even the Franco-Prussian War had to be put on hold for the Paris Commune. Participation in electoral politics and courts of law, serve to legitimize the State’s monopoly on violence and facilitate the internal and external projection of force. Greeting the politicians and police as “liberators” will not make you free.

Catching Up (Part 3.) September 17-23

  • September 17: Everyone at a John Kerry speech should be Tasered, including hecklers, cops, and Kerrys alike. In a representative government individual politicians go away if ignored.

Predator Access to Children Restricted by School Board

jackson.jpgAny effort to counter military recruiting, reformist or otherwise is fine with me, since I favor reinstating the military draft. Although their (public) numbers are shrinking, since 9/11/2001, there are still far too many flag-sucking sheep, who beat the drums of war, but refuse to to take up arms themselves. A draft would give many of them a chance to put their money where their mouth and magnetic ribbons are. It would be interesting to see some casualties from the suburbs, instead of the current. mostly rural and urban child sacrifice.
Otherwise sane people who feel that there is nothing they can do about the imperial designs of the US, would probably realize that there were at least a few things they could try, if their number was called. Violent authority could lose some of its newfound popularity, too. I have a feeling that the self-described, ‘War on the Lack of Consumer Capitalist Markets in Resource Laden, Largely Muslim Regions Terror’ wouldn’t survive too long if it required anything more than economic conscripts. A “volunteer” military is one of those rackets like voting, that is used by State capitalist regimes self-described ‘democracies’, to fabricate the illusion of consent, and the US could stand a little disillusionment (and barricades).

Whether it is underreported, or actually rare, there is very little of the kind of resistance that led to the US withdrawal from Indochina. Sorry old hippies, and new SDSers, I’m talking about mutiny and desertion, not sit-ins and good vibes.

The 21st century US military recruiter is a despicable creature; half pimp, using deception, coercion, and sometimes outright sexual assault, to put healthy young bodies to work for their own financial gain, as well as half snitch, because like a informant, they must get other people to forfeit their freedom, to escape the consequences of their actions, although instead of jail, the recruiter are trying to avoid combat in Iraq. If they don’t offer up enough fresh meat for the grinder, they are headed back to the front lines, and like other snitches, the State is willing to overlook almost any misdeed, if it produces the desired outcome.

Although compulsory education seems to be about 95% compulsory and 5% education, it’s good to hear that the Pittsburgh City School Board passed a resolution that restricts the kind of dirty tricks that the captive audience known as “our children” can be subjected to. Some of the provisions of the resolution include:

Curiously enough, Mark Brentley Sr., who was hailed as a supporter of the resolution, by any account, voted against it. None of the media reports name a reason.

Kudos to the School Board. I never thought I’d live long enough to say that. Nice work Conscience and Quakers, and while you’re at it, check with the folks from the Pittsburgh Organizing Group, to see if there’s anything you can do to support their upcoming action.

In theory, this will also curtail the activities of other confidence tricksters, such as those who push five-figure a semester, 2 year culinary and art schools, and credit cards for teens and other exploitative practices.

Domestic Terror Groups Running Low on Ammunition

One of the good things about the 21st Century crusades, is that occasionally, glassy-eyed, flag-sucking morons engage in combat with their lunatic Muslim counterparts, and both sides take casualties. I do fell genuine sympathy for ordinary Iraqis and Afghanis caught in the crossfire, and to a lesser degree, the Crusader mercenaries noble volunteers who are only seeking to elevate their own economic conditions and get a formal education, but it is ridiculous, after a certain point in time, to pretend that they did not know what they were getting into when they enlisted. At the risk of being branded “insensitive” the fewer “care so much about the flag or holy book that I’ll kill you” or whatever types that I have to share a planet with, the better. An imperial army, composed of slaves and/or mercenaries, is a formula that dates back to the days of Roman conquest, and like Rome and other imperial powers, the US empire is in decline, due in large part to it’s attempt to control large territories far from the Belly of its Beast.

I wince when liberals bleat about “supporting the troops”. What in the hell does that mean? I used to “support the troops” when I was paying federal taxes, but other than that, and magnetic ribbons (which support the troops in Red China), they’ve lost me. Are they guarding rear supply lines? Mending torn uniforms? Reloading ammunition? Knitting desert camouflaged I-pod covers?

Same with the “bring the troops home now”; I say leave them there. We have enough deranged cops running around as it is. The last thing us lower class folks in the US need is a bunch of shell-shocked 20 something cops, who can’t tell the difference between Sadr City and Kansas City. At least after Vietnam, they used their civil service points to work for the post office, and most of their combat took place in jungles, not urban environs. I’d take the random individual “going postal” over thousands of PTSD cases resuming their domestic role as the occupying army of Capital, as members of an increasingly militarized police force.

We have more than enough uniformed, licensed, specialists in suppression of the poor, that we should be in no hurry to subject ourselves to new ones. On a positive note, the Crusades are limiting the capacity for State terrorists to train and wage violence against US civilians.

Recruiting Roundup

Here are some recent articles and editorials about the ugliness of military recruiting and the low-rent pimps who do it:

One of these predators will plead guilty to sexually assaulting recruits in Indiana.

Former US army specialist, Aimee Allison examines the expanding problem of sexual abuse by military recruiters on AlterNet. MedIndia,a health infromation web portal also examines the phenomena.

A former Tuscon army recruiter, caught up in an FBI sting, was sentenced for his role in a drug trafficking operation.

Recruiter’s vehicles in Texas and Florida have recently been “customized.”

Despite a lowering in standards, and an increase in waivers and a fiscal year 2006 recruitment and advertising budget of $1,407,100,000 ($1.4 billion), recruiting numbers were down for the second month in a row.

An ASVAB proctor was caught rigging test scores (at cut rates).

It’s not just the World’s Policeman. On a related note, a Pittsburgh Police Sergeant was given a 3 day suspension for helping terrorist trainees cheat on their tests.

The recent arrest of a 31 year old recruiter on child pornography charges raises questions as tot whether the US marines may be doing more than just recruiting with their Hitler Youth-esque Young Marines program:

The Young Marines is a youth education and service program for boys and girls, ages 8 through completion of high school. The Young Marines promotes the mental, moral, and physical development of its members. The program focuses on character building, leadership, and promotes a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.

youngmarinessmall.jpghitleryouth.jpg

Which photo is the Young Marines & which is the Hitler Youth? Nationalism is nationalism.

These stories are only from the last week or two.